A Colourful Celebration of Love
Indian weddings are a grand celebration that vary across regions and cultures. But regardless of ethnic variations, you are bound to find a fascinating (and often mind boggling) mix of rituals, traditions, festivities, food and colourful clothes! Top it off with the music and dance routines that weddings in the North are specially known for, and you have yourself a Big Fat Indian Wedding! Joining the celebrations with the bride and groom and their families, is a great way to experience Indian culture up close. This multi-day extravaganza promises everything that one looks for in a trip to India – delectable food, musical evenings, warm hospitality, vibrant celebrations and moving rituals that are sure to leave you with a sense of what it truly means to be Indian.
Indian weddings can last for days, sometimes even a week! While the celebrations vary across regions, the most often depicted Indian weddings in pop culture are usually from the Northern states. Here’s what you can expect at a typical North Indian Hindu wedding:
The Pooja Or Where it all begins
Weddings across the country typically begin with a religious ceremony to mark an auspicious start to the festivities. The bride, groom and their families take the blessings of the gods and their ancestors before any celebrations are officially started. This is usually a small affair with close family and friends in attendance, accompanied with religious incantations and rituals.
As the first ceremony, the puja is usually more sombre than the rest of the wedding, so dress lightly and be mindful of the rites and sanctity of the day.
Mehendi OR The one with the Henna tattoos
If you have ever wondered about the bright red and orange tattoos on a newlywed woman’s hands, now is the time to try it! Usually on the afternoon before the big day, all the ladies from the bride’s side (and sometimes the groom’s), come together to get these beautiful henna tattoos applied on their hands. Professional artists are brought in to paint the beautiful patterns – the most stunning, intricate and detailed of which are done on the bride’s hands, arms and legs. The women will often gather around in circles and sing traditional songs during this time, as they wait for their turn to get the henna tattoos.
Gentlemen, this one is for the ladies, so entry may or may not be restricted, depending on how traditional the family is. But if you’re around, spend some time taking care of the girls. When freshly applied, henna tattoos are extremely wet and take up to an hour to dry and peel off (that’s when the beautiful red colour comes out). So, they might need your help to get around for a bit!
Sangeet OR The one with all the song and dance
This is the one you’ve been waiting for – the evening of lively dance performances, often on Bollywood numbers, that Indian weddings are known for! Everyone, from siblings and friends to older relatives and even grandparents, come onto the dance floor to show their moves. In many families, there is a tradition of choreographing the dance numbers in advance and competing with the other side for dance glory.
Don’t be afraid to strut your stuff on the sangeet night. Or better yet, learn a few moves from the wedding party and join the troupe!
Haldi OR The yellow morning
The morning of the wedding day is dedicated to prepping the bride and groom for their upcoming nuptials. In separate ceremonies, both are bestowed blessings of the families with relatives coming up and putting a paste of turmeric and water on their faces and bodies. The paste is a traditional mix to provide their skin with a supple glow for the evening.
Haldi is usually a fun ceremony where youngsters, and some young-at-heart elders, would slap the turmeric paste all over the groom. The bride wears the traditional chooda and kalire in her wrists, which are later used in an amusing ceremony to find out which young girl will get married next!
The Pheras OR Where it all ends
The evening of the wedding usually begins with a big bang, as the groom makes a grand entrance with his wedding party, or baraat. Families exchange garlands before the groom is escorted to the bride, who usually waits for him inside the venue.
The ceremony takes place inside a beautiful enclosure called the mandap, decorated with coloured cloth, flowers and other ornaments, and with an open roof that lets the couple see the stars and moon above. The elaborate rituals often go on for a few hours and include three key elements – Kanyadaan, Panigrahana, and Saptapadi. These are respectively, the gifting away of the daughter by the father; voluntarily holding hands near the fire to signify the impending union; and taking seven steps before the fire, each step accompanied with a set of mutual vows.
After the wedding concludes, the bride leaves the venue with the groom and his family, in a touching ceremony called Bidai, which literally means farewell.
How to attend a Big Fat Indian Wedding?
Here’s one sample of a journey where you can witness a beautiful Indian wedding in North India, along with exploring the romance and majesty of the region, led by an expert who will enthrall you with insights into Indian tradition and culture.
Or ask us for a customized journey, based on your interests.
Day 1: Delhi
Arrive in Delhi and spend the evening interacting with your “tour expert” who will brief you on the upcoming journey.
Day 2: Agra
Drive down to Agra and visit the world-famous monument of love, Taj Mahal, the mausoleum built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for his favourite wife, Mumtaz
Day 3: Jaipur
Drive down to Jaipur. Together with Delhi and Agra, this comprises the most popular tourist circuit of the country – the Golden Triangle.
Day 4: Jaipur
Spend the day exploring the royal roots and fascinating stories of Jaipur.
Day 5: Bishangarh
Transfer to your heritage stay inside the refurbished warrior fort of Alila in Bishangarh. Explore life in the local village, relishing authentic regional dishes.
Day 6: Delhi
Leave for Delhi, where the wedding ceremonies will begin today with Mehendi and Sangeet.
Day 7: Delhi
Spend the morning exploring Old Delhi. And then step out for the main function of the wedding in the evening.
Day 8: Delhi
Explore New Delhi, in sharp contrast to Old Delhi with its broad tree-lined avenues, punctuated by Mughal-style gardens and colonial bungalows.
Day 9: Delhi
After breakfast, transfer to the airport to board your flight back home.